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January 19, 2006

Progress: taking Actional

In a move that marks another step in the consolidation of the service oriented architecture (SOA) tools market, Progress Software has announced that it will acquire web services management tools vendor Actional for $32 million. While this will help align Sonic with other SOA vendors, however, the company has no plans to alter current registry services arrangements to further this strategy.

By CBR Staff Writer

Progress Software has signed an agreement to acquire Actional.

Under the deal, Actional would become a product unit of Sonic, the division of Progress that focuses on enterprise service busses and Java Messaging Service (JMS) messaging. Sonic is one of the companies that has laid claim to inventing the enterprise service bus (ESB).

Actional brings two product families to the table. They include Looking Glass, an agent-based tool for monitoring and managing web services deployed internally on an ESB, and SOAPstation, a broker for monitoring and managing interactions of web services that are deployed remotely, outside a bus.

Sonic and Actional currently share several joint customer engagements, including CalISO and Starwood.

Sonic pitches the products as follows: If you are trying to enforce policy, you would deploy SOAPstation; if you are trying to discover, measure, and supervise web services within a bounded environment, you would choose Looking Glass; and if you want to connect and orchestrate large quantities of web services, that is where Sonic ESB fits in.

Although Looking Glass and SOAPstation are separate products, both can be viewed from the same console.

The deal comes just over two years after Actional divested its adapter business to iWay, the middleware unit of Information Builders. It also comes on the heels of Progress’ $68 million acquisition of Neon, which could provide synergies by exposing mainframe data as web services.

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In so doing, the addition of Actional starts to make Sonic resemble other SOA vendors like SOA Software, which also has web services management tools and mainframe connectivity.

Significantly, what’s not part of Progress’s roadmap at this point is to acquire registry capabilities, which would make it even more like SOA Software. In fact, both Sonic and Actional have already been partners of registry provider Systinet, which was recently acquired by Mercury. According to Sonic, the company has no plans to change that.

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